Reading my devotional this morning I found myself in John 5. It is chock full of the value of intimacy to God over the rote traditions of the religious, but what caught my eye and heart was Jesus’ question to the guy who’s been paralyzed for 38 years. The man has been lying there next to the Pool of Bethesda waiting and hoping for an angelic stirring of the waters, and perhaps the bigger miracle that someone would help him get into the water first. I guess the most desperate or the ones with the most friends beat him out every time.
For 38 years this guy has been waiting, wanting his life to change, to be healed. Jesus seemingly asks him the dumbest question ever in John 5:6, “Do you want to get well?” The question almost seems mean-spirited, as if Jesus is making light of the man’s condition. At best, it appears insensitive. Of course, we know Jesus is never that callous, especially to those who are suffering. So what’s Jesus getting at?
Then I think about the government shut-down in Washington, D.C., or me with some of my afflictions and foibles. Sometimes we enjoy the status quo more than the risk of real change. Think about it. When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to get well, he didn’t answer. He just made excuses about not having anyone to help him get into the healing waters. So as usual something else is going on here. Do our political parties really want things to get better, or does their very existence dictate intractable conflict. Without some kind of fight going on they don’t have a reason to be. It’s that simple.
I don’t know about you but I’m ready for real change, and not just the appearance of wanting change by sitting by the healing waters of the Pool or the Potomac. What does Jesus say to the man and perhaps to our laissez-faire government that gets more PAC money the longer the partisan bickering and stalemates last? Jesus says, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Jesus says, “Get over yourself and your excuses. Tell the powers that be who want to keep you paralyzed and shut-down to get over themselves. It’s a new day. If we’re going to be about the Father’s business, it going to be about healing and not hurting. The nuts hung up on process have taken over and it’s time to let them go so that the real prisoners can be set free. It’s time – Do you want to get well?”
Do I want to get well? You? Aren’t we a lot like the invalid? We want our prayers answered, but are afraid we might miss the sympathetic attention if they are. We would love freedom, but are comfortable captives. We want to change, but we don’t want to change too much. Instead of answering Jesus’ question about getting well, we make excuses. Good Lord, we’re as divided in our souls as Congress is. Apparently, we prefer a woe-is-me existence over change and risk.
Today, this day, we need to take a chance and take up our mats, leave what paralyzes us behind and walk into a new day as individuals, as a people, as a country. We must be willing to leave old ways behind. To know Jesus is to know that nothing will ever be the same again. And it’s worth it for those who dare to do what Jesus says. It’s time for Congress and us to make changes! We may look foolish if we try to make a difference in a jaded world, but the real fools are the ones still sitting on their hands and doing nothing. Take up you mat and walk! Today!
Carrie Underwood’s “Change” is a good reminder to us and our government that we can set the prisoners free. Sometimes the prisoner is me – locked into my own personal status quo of inertia, perhaps enjoying the stalemate in my heart a little too much. It’s time to be a fool for Christ and embrace change, use change, and move literally off the stuck dimes of our lives.